Truth Stranger Than Fiction – Patricia Cornwell’s Day Of Crisis

I usually don’t group my articles under the ‘Relationship’ category, as I write about the correlations of major events and certain key years in the lives of people, usually with a marked public profile, as this makes my research easier to undertake. So this is not another “How to” attract a mate or similar, but rather a very good example of my new theory of life in 12 year cycles, known simply as ‘Life Cycles’.

I study events particularly in the first year of the cycle (ie. ages 12, 24, 36 etc), which is known as the ‘Year of Revolution’ and is meant to equate to a new age/new direction. I often begin with the central mid-life, age of 36, because it equates to major career breakthroughs and contains some of my strongest evidence. So, with the recently deceased author Tom Clancy, it was the year in which his first and most important book The Hunt For Red October found a publisher and got launched. I wrote another article about him very recently.

However, I began to research the life of leading crime author Patricia Cornwell, because I saw her featured on a TV special. As I did so, I realised that she had already begun her writing career a couple of years beforehand, so I didn’t have an easy match between this and the age of 36. However this is life, it sometimes happens; otherwise I’m sure someone else would have jumped on my same observation long before. I had to investigate the period in her life when she was 36 ie. between June 9th, 1992 and June 9th, 1993. I’m a bit like Dr. Kay Scarpetta (Cornwell’s alter ego); I ferret around for evidence. You see my theory owes nothing to the occult, with their totally unprovable notions and lack of case history support.

Cornwell’s life reads a bit like one of her novels. It’s full of disturbed behaviour and angst and crises. Her very success, seems to be built on the back of her own unfortunate upbringing and adjustment issues. She pretty much said the same thing in the TV interview I saw. Anyway, the year of 36, her major ‘Year of Revolution’ features the most dramatic day in her whole life. The day when her life itself hung in the balance. I’m going to, where possible, use her own words to describe events, because this subjective evidence offers the strongest backing.

I am helped in this task by a book called Twisted Triangle, which tells the extraordinary tale of Cornwell’s lesbian love affair with a married FBI agent, by the name of Margo Bennett. Cornwell herself had been abandoned as a child by her father and placed in foster care, as protection from her mentally disturbed mother. She suffered from anorexia as a teenager and was tortured by mood swings. In college she became infatuated with her English professor, whom she pursued and married on graduation, but her true orientation was to lesbianism. Her marriage had broken up in 1989, just before she was about to get published in 1990.

So just how did Cornwell, who by then had become successful, get to meet and fall in love with Margo Bennett? Truth stranger than fiction is about to unfold. Gene and Margo Bennett were known as the ‘golden couple’ in FBI circles, because of their career success. However when they married in 1984 Margo soon got to know about Gene’s dodgy activities, which she reluctantly went along with. He made fraudulent insurance claims along with claiming work allowances he wasn’t entitled to. Their marriage was not a happy one in a number of ways.

She had been involved with a woman before, but had wisely kept that a secret, because he had a violent temper and she was afraid to leave him. In June, 1991 a colleague of Margo’s brought an up-and-coming novelist to the office to learn more about the criminal mind. A year after the initial encounter Cornwell again visited and the pair chatted for hours. Here we are perched at the start of Cornwell’s 36th year. Cornwell pursued her purposefully, with gifts and dinner dates and sensual overtures. Margo describes their first encounter in a most romantic fashion:- ” It was a very special, magical and unique moment.”

No question about it they were deeply in love. Cornwell had found her true feelings reciprocated. This must have been a ‘real high’. Despite still being married, she accompanied Cornwell to literary events. Soon after this she moved to rented accommodation and was going to tell Gene that she wanted a divorce. Meanwhile Gene wasn’t taking this lying down and he began threatening them both. Cornwell admitted to Margo:- “He scares me. I don’t trust him, he’s dangerous.” Then Cornwell began to back away from the relationship.

So this is the web of intrigue that has been spun. It’s now Jan. 1993 and one afternoon Cornwell is sitting, working alone in a rented beach cottage in Malibu, on the screenplay for her fourth novel “Cruel and Unusual”. She is knocking back Bloody Mary’s and then got into her Mercedes Sports car to head to dinner and more drinks with her agent. Driving home she rammed her car into an empty van and flipped it over three times. She was trapped and bleeding and had to be cut free from the wreckage. She received a drink driving conviction, but more than this, she said this brush with death was necessary as the ‘wake up’ call she had to have.

Let’s use her own words here:- “It was a necessary experience. Things were out of control. I was going to live or die. I was going to be bankrupt or I was going to make it.” Now I’m not sure exactly how she got her finances in such a fix, but I do know she had made more than $1 million the previous year and Demi Moore was talking about starring in a movie as Dr. Kay Scarpetta. It was said that because she had grown up poor, that she was not experienced in handling large amounts of money. Come what may, you don’t talk possible bankruptcy lightly, so it would be safe to say she was highly stressed over this..

I do know, however, what her other big emotional crisis was. Margo had told her that she was definitely breaking the relationship off, because she was scared Gene was going to make it public in their divorce case and she would lose custody of her children. Also this publicity wouldn’t have been good for Cornwell. This was 1993 and before the time when Ellen De Generis lost her TV career in 1997 over “coming out” as a lesbian on the cover of Time Magazine.

Cornwell, it could reasonably be said, was stressed out of her mind at the time of the accident. ‘All her chickens were going to come home to roost together’, so to speak. I collect stories of moments like these in people’s ‘Years of Revolution’. Moments when things are in the balance and can go one way or the other. What pulled her out? Again, in her own words:- “I remember thinking, I wasn’t going to go yet. I had to straighten this out.” Yes, the triumph of rising from the ashes can be a real part of this process and I write in my book about just such a journey in the lives in many, in one form or another. I hope you enjoyed this ‘truth stranger than fiction’ story.

Skoda Scoops Several Gongs

The Skoda Yeti was recently crowned the Auto Express Car of the Year 2010. The weekly automotive magazine also honoured several other new Skodas too – the Skoda Superb Hatch and Estate won their respective categories, and Skoda won the 2010 Drive Power Award too.

In all Skoda collected five awards on the night which must be very pleasing for the motoring brand which hasn’t always been a popular choice amongst motorists.

It’s also not the first time a crossover has picked up an award this year. Crossovers are a new breed of car that combine elements of an SUV with an MPV and a hatch – so they basically offer motorists the best of both worlds.

Earlier in the year the Peugeot 3008 won the WhatCar? Car of the Year award and the Nissan Qashqai has had a great response since it was launched on the market and lead the way for Crossovers everywhere.

Crossover vehicles are bigger than your average hatchback, but they’re not so big that they are difficult to handle and manoeuvre around towns and cities. They are also an excellent family vehicle as they offer plenty of room for busy families’ shopping and other bits and bobs. They ‘borrow’ elements of styling from SUVs to give them a stylish, sporty edge.

So – have Skoda finally shed their image as being ‘cheap’ ‘unreliable’ and of a poor build quality? Now the brand prides themselves on offering great value for money – and many motorists will back this up, they also have a few awards under their belt which will help to reiterate this point too!

Gender Identity

Thoughts on gender identity and creativity

I was listening to CBC radio in the car last year while two celebrity men my age were talking like giddy little schoolboys about their hockey and baseball sports card collection. I envied their enthusiasm and pride in their collections and wondered why I never got the bug, even though at one point I had boxes and boxes of them that I had won from playing toss and match gambling. I loved sports and played virtually all types. I had a large number of cards only because I won them. Soon after grade eight I just threw them out. But as the celebrities waxed on about their collections I realized that I too had my own collections during my youth, and as William Wordsworth wrote, ” the child is father to the man”

In my boyhood the secrets of my future creativity were revealed and it was only on looking back did I realize how early my quirky creativity became apparent. My boyhood interests fathered the creative person I am today. I had two collections, one a stamp collection which I still have, the other a collection of match boxes from restaurants and hotels. My stamp collection was my art gallery. I loved the exquisite designs of Olympic sport stamps from countries all over the world, created by the best artists in each country.

I treasured these little lithographs. I selected them in the same way an art collector would. The match box collection also revealed this artistic bent. I selected them, not like others who collected them from as many cities or countries as they could, I collected only the ones which appealed to me because of their artistic design—- another one of my art collections. From a very early age I also treasured my Kodak Brownie camera and collected photos I took that I thought were fine art pieces. Today I have other collections of fine art. While I could never afford original paintings, I do own a Miro lithograh and Picasso lithograph and many lithos of the modern French artists, some fine Japanese woodcuts, as well as photos by Walker Evans, Josef Karsh and Robert Frank . These are my stamps and matchboxes of old.

But there is more to my creativity than just collecting. I remember in grade seven and eight, tearing out pages from magazines of dancers like Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly with images of them leaping through the air with incredible grace and athleticism. I was never able to tell anyone of my interest or do anything about it because at that time a boy who was interested in dance had to be gay and I was terrified of being labeled that way. The only way I was able to come close and maintain my masculine integrity was to take up sports that captured some of the elements of dance. I became a gymnast as well as a springboard diver. In both cases I was able to perform my dance moves in the air and not be labeled gay!

When I retired, at the age of 58 as a school superintendent and returned to university to teach, I fulfilled a childhood dream and enrolled in a modern dance class at the Toronto Dance School. By this time I felt confident enough about my own masculinity that I didn’t care what anyone thought. In my class of 20 students, I was one of only two males and the other 18 were young women more than half my age. They were all hoping to improve their skills to the level that would allow them to gain admission to the school on a fulltime basis. What a sight to see me in tights amidst all this feminine pulchritude.

Our classes were held in a wonderful room with a high ceiling and the walls were covered with mirrors . I remember one crowning moment when the accompanist drummer led us though a routine that culminated in all of us rising up on our toes to one final climactic plie. As we approached the final moment and the drummer reached his final strum on the drum, and as we rose up as one, arms gracefully above our head on our tippy toes, the drum beat ended precisely at the moment when I unfortunately punctuated the final drum beat with a horrific thunderous fart. All twenty sets of eyes could be seen in the mirrors glancing my way and I turned pomegranate red. It certainly affirmed my masculinity. I did not attain admission standards for a fulltime place in the program.

There were other manifestations of my creativity that affected my identity. I began to sew. For years I made my wife’s clothing as well as my two daughters. My crowning achievement was making my daughter’s wedding dress. It was simple, elegant and chic. Again I feared that people would think I was gay. Whenever I publicly told anyone I sewed I always said “yes, I can make a skirt or a dress for my wife on a Sunday afternoon during an NFL football game.” It was in fact true, but it was an attempt to dissipate any thoughts of my sexual preference by adding this very masculine activity. How silly it now seems on reflection.

And it doesn’t stop there. I am avid flower grower and arranger. I made two massive flower arrangements for my daughters wedding that framed the ceremony . And I also love to cook . I studied French cooking while living in Germany and I devour cookbooks and cooking magazines. I am a very inventive and creative chef, if not a consistent one. As well, I love interior decoration. Our house and cottage are carefully decorated with many antiques that I have restored – collections of antique glass, fine artwork or my own photographs, and of course always fresh flower arrangements. My main hobby now is photography and I hold three or fours exhibitions a year of my work.

It is not that I excelled at all these hobbies, in fact I engaged in far more projects that I ever completed and fine detail and finishing are not my strengths. The old adage applies that I was a jack of all arts but master of none, but there is a record here from a very early age of an innate predisposition to artistic endeavors.

When you combine all these interests – the dancing, the fashion design and sewing, the interior decorating, the photography, flower arranging and the creative cooking, you emerge with a distinct stereotype of a gay male. I have always had this fear growing up of being accused as gay and as Seinfeld said, “not that there is anything wrong with that”, it is just that I didn’t want that label applied to me . It is interesting and regrettable the things I did to ensure no one thought I was gay, including, regrettably, at times displaying homophobia. It is only now that I am comfortable enough in my own skin that I can talk about it. I know I am a “raging heterosexual” and I am proud of the more feminine aspects of my interests and talents.